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Florence D'Urso, 79, Pelham Manor Philanthropist

PELHAM MANOR, N.Y. – Florence B. D’Urso, a longtime resident of Pelham Manor and Manhattan, died April 24, 2012, at Calvary Hospital. She was 79.

A Mass of resurrection was celebrated Friday at St. Patrick’s Cathedral in Manhattan.

D’Urso supported many organizations, funding local hospitals, Catholic churches and nonprofits. For almost two decades, D’Urso contributed to the restoration work at St. Patrick's Cathedral. She was the first woman appointed to serve as trustee of St. Patrick’s Cathedral.

She also did the floral arrangements for its altars, becoming known as the cathedral’s “flower lady.” D’Urso designed and personally worked on the floral arrangements for the visits of Pope John Paul II, and later, Pope Benedict XVI, during her battle with cancer.

D'Urso founded scholarships at St. Joseph’s Seminary and the Pontifical North American College, and provided ongoing support to the Legionaires of Christ, the Christian Brothers and the Sisters of Life.

She was a graduate of Marywood University and New York School of Interior Design. She worked professionally as a teacher, a fashion model and as vice president of design and planning, chairman of the board and CEO of D’Urso Supermarkets, after the death of her husband.

D’Urso was committed to charitable involvement with many organizations and also undertook many projects on her own. With her husband, Camillo, she built Our Lady of Lourdes Church in Cancun, a technology center at Iona Prep and the patient activity center at Calvary Hospital.

D’Urso was the third person to receive the Michelangelo Medal for her support of the art of the Vatican Museums. She also received the Marywood Alumni Humanitarian Award in 2005.

She funded restoration work locally as a member of the New York Municipal Art Society and Old Westbury Gardens. D’Urso donated extensively to the Inner-City Scholarship Fund, Boys’ Town of Italy, Best Buddies International, the Special Olympics and Marywood University.

She also served as a trustee for Inner-City Scholarship Fund, trustee emerita for Calvary Fund Board and as a past trustee of Best Buddies International. She served on the boards of the Iona Grammar and Preparatory School Mother Auxiliary, St. Vincent’s Hospital, Harrison Auxiliary, Boys’ Town of Italy and Our Lady of Mercy Hospital.

She was honored as a Dame of Magistral Grace of the Sovereign Military Hospitalier Order of St. John of Jerusalem of Rhodes and Malta, as Dame Commander with Star of St. Gregory the Great and Dame Grand Cross of the Equestrian Order of the Holy Sepulchre of Jerusalem.

D’Urso is survived by two daughters, Donna and Lisa; a son, Mark; a granddaughter; a daughter-in-law; a sister, Rose Ann (Donald) White; a sister-in-law and many friends, cousins, nieces and nephews. She was predeceased by her husband, Camillo; a son, David Francis; her parents, Anna and Anthony Perkosky; and a brother, the Rev. Francis Perkosky S.S.

Memorial donations may be made to the Missionaries of Charity, 335 East 145th St., Bronx, NY 10451, Attn: Rev. Sister Lisseria Lonan, M.C., S.G. and the Inner-City Scholarship Fund.

Frank E. Campbell Funeral Home in Manhattan is in charge of arrangements.

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